Although this walk is part of the South West Coast Path, it is mostly within the wooded Undercliff National Park. It’s also surprisingly challenging and took much longer than expected for the distance (7 miles/11 km in 4.5 hours) so I thought I’d share the journey. You can walk either way and get the 9A bus back to whichever end you started at.
It’s well sign-posted all the way.
The first mile out of Lyme Regis is through fields and up behind the cliffs. You’ll pass a little fence with portrayals of the women who made Lyme Regis famous in the world of Paleontology and Geology, Mary Anning being the most well-known.
After about a mile, you enter the Axmouth-Lyme Regis Undercliffs National Nature Reserve. The woodland has grown over cliff rockfalls over many generations and forms part of the Dorset and East Devon World Heritage Site, protected for its biodiversity.
We walked in the rain and the ground was muddy with some sections of deep puddles as well as tangles of tree roots.
In some places, there are wooden stairs, but much of the walk was slippery. Definitely take poles to help with fording deep puddles and for clambering up and down the steeper sections. We didn’t take them and regretted it!
The woodlands are dense and it feels as if dinosaurs could walk out of the undergrowth. In places, the trees open up and you can see the sea.
There are warnings at both ends of the path noting that this is an arduous walk. As it’s only 7 miles/11 km, I had planned on walking Lyme Regis to Seaton return. But it took us 4.5 hours one way (including breaks and mud-crossings) so we just got the bus back from Seaton.
Once you’re on the path, you don’t need any kind of navigation device or map. The path is well marked with acorns on wooden posts at points where you could take a wrong turn.
Keep an eye out for the wild orchids.
The path opens up towards Seaton becoming more of a wide track, but there are still narrow parts along the way.
Eventually, the woodlands finish, and the last section is more of a cliff walk and then down onto Seaton seafront.
Practicalities: There are toilets at Lyme Regis and Seaton, and plenty of bushes along the way. There are shops and refreshments in both places but nothing in between, so take enough water and coffee for up to 5 hours, depending on the weather. We walked in early July 2021. It was warm and wet and humid in the trees. Take the 9A bus between Lyme Regis and Seaton if you’re going one way, and there are also taxi companies.
If you want to walk more of the South West Coast Path, check out the Cicerone Guidebook.
Seaton is not a very touristy place but there is a kiosk on the beach and a big Tesco supermarket near the 9A bus stop one street back.
It was a great adventure!
Books set in Lyme Regis
- Remarkable Creatures — Tracy Chevalier. A stunning historical novel that follows the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, two extraordinary 19th-century fossil hunters who changed the scientific world forever.
- Persuasion — Jane Austen. Part of the book is set in Lyme.
- The French Lieutenant’s Woman — John Fowles. Charles Smithson, a respectable engaged man, meets Sarah Woodruff as she stands on the Cobb at Lyme Regis, staring out to sea. Charles falls in love, but Sarah is a disgraced woman, and their romance will defy all the stifling conventions of the Victorian age.
- Jurassic Mary: Mary Anning and the Primeval Monsters — Patricia Pierce. Biography of one of the pioneers of the emerging science of geology whose discoveries were often credited in her time to others, due to her gender and class.
- Stone Girl, Bone Girl — Laurence Anholt. This spectacular tale of a little girl who dared to be different and who followed her dreams will inspire young children.
You can find these and many more at the Lyme Regis Bookshop.